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McHugh affair another example of media manipulation says Jim McGuinness

The All-Ireland winning boss feels he is often ‘swimming against the tide’.

Jim McGuinness  enjoys an interesting relationship with the media.
Jim McGuinness enjoys an interesting relationship with the media.
Image: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

THERE’S NO CONSPIRACY, no cover up, just four players who decided to leave an inter-county panel, for various reasons, less than a month before the start of the 2014 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship.

That’s the message from Donegal boss Jim McGuinness as he prepares his side for their Ulster opener with Derry in Celtic Park on May 25.

“I am not going to go into the detail on it and I have deal with it through the local paper.

“There is not much more to be said on it because we are preparing for a game and that is the most important thing. The game is now in full focus. There are four players and for different reasons [they decided] to step away.

“I think it is better to leave it at that because that becomes the story. This is about football and it is about a big, big game for us.”

However, when pressed, the 2012 All-Ireland winning boss re-iterated the views of Paul Durcan last week that the door is always open for the players, including Mark McHugh, to return.

“Absolutely, like every other player in the county if they are interested in playing for Donegal, and the perception is that they are good enough, then of course why would we not look at that situation.

“There is an element of sensationalism around Donegal as well. Three of the boys left because they were not making the 26. And it was the same when there were changes in the backroom team.

“I suppose it is trying to sell papers at the end of the day, to make a headline and I understand that but it does not happen in other counties the same way that it happens in Donegal.”

Mark McHugh and manager Jim McGuinness take to the field Mark McHugh and Jim McGuinness during last year's championship. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

McGuinness went on to cite a recent example where he felt he and his team were misrepresented by one particular media outlet regarding club games in the county.

“All anyone wants is the balance and sometimes I don’t think that is there because if it is not sensational , it is not worth printing it in terms of Donegal.

“That is why I prefer to talk about football because it is not going to be about football tomorrow morning it is going to be about something else and the bottom line is that we have a huge game on the 25th of May and that is what me and my players focus is on 100%.”

And McGuinness believes it wouldn’t be the same if he was managing any other county.

“This has never been an easy job from day one.

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“It has involved swimming against the tide in some respects, working very hard to achieve things that – in my opinion – if I was managing Galway or somebody else, you would just not be dealing with them, they would not be on the agenda but that is fine, it is part and parcel of it, you become immune to it but you still have to deal with it.”

For the 41-year old, it is easier said than done and it does slightly take away from his enjoyment of the game. However, the responsibility he feels towards his players counteracts any negatives.

“In an ideal world it would be a lot easier and you would be able to get on with the job and you would be connected with your job more, so from that point of view definitely.

“But the job is the job and it is the most important one in Donegal GAA at the moment and I am working with a group of players who are giving everything, who are very focussed and, in my opinion, very humble and that is the kind of people I like working with.

“That bond has never ever been even dented, it is very powerful, it is very personal and very human. It is very connected and we really enjoy giving it everything we have got for the county so in terms of criticising the job I would never do that.

“I am in a privileged position to be working with people who want to work because I have been in dressing rooms myself with people that maybe don’t have it worked out, but these fellows know that if they work hard, keep their head down and keep driving forward as best they can, they give themselves a fighting chance of being successful.”

‘The door is never closed for anyone’ – Paul Durcan on potential Mark McHugh comeback

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